Title:
Chemically-Selective Detector and Methods Relating Thereto
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
In accordance with certain embodiments of the present disclosure, a method for adjusting the spectral detectivity of a thermal detector is described. The method includes coating the light sensitive portion of a thermal detector with a first material to reduce the response of the detector. The first material is coated with a second material that is thermally thin and has spectral absorption characteristics. The second material is coated with a third material that is thermally thick, whereby the spectral absorbance of the second material as filtered by the third material primarily determines the thermal conversion of the thermal detector.



Inventors:
Myrick, Michael L. (Irmo, SC, US)
Brooke, Heather (Columbia, SC, US)
Morgan, Stephen L. (Columbia, SC, US)
Application Number:
12/419533
Publication Date:
10/08/2009
Filing Date:
04/07/2009
Assignee:
University of South Carolina (Columbia, SC, US)
Primary Class:
International Classes:
G01J5/02
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GREEN, YARA B
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
HAYNES AND BOONE, LLP (IP Section 2323 Victory Avenue Suite 700, Dallas, TX, 75219, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A method for adjusting the spectral detectivity of a thermal detector, comprising: coating the light sensitive portion of a thermal detector with a first material to reduce the response of the detector; coating the first material with a second material that is thermally thin and has spectral absorption characteristics; and coating the second material with a third material that is thermally thick, whereby the spectral absorbance of the second material as filtered by the third material primarily determines the thermal conversion of the thermal detector.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein the first material is a mirror coating material.

3. The method of claim 2, wherein the mirror coating is a metal.

4. The method of claim 3, wherein the metal is gold.

5. The method of claim 1, wherein the second material is a polymer.

6. The method of claim 5, wherein the polymer comprises a near infrared dye.

7. The method of claim 6, wherein the dye absorbs light in the 860 nm spectral region.

8. The method of claim 5, wherein the polymer comprises an acrylic resin.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein acrylic resin comprises an isobutyl methacrylate polymer.

10. The method of claim 1, wherein the thermal detector comprises a thermopile detector.

11. The method of claim 1, wherein the third material is a polymer.

12. The method of claim 1, further comprising: providing an electrically insulating coating on the light sensitive portion of the thermal detector prior to coating the light sensitive portion with the first material.

13. The method of claim 12, wherein the electrically insulating material is a SiO2 film.

14. A thermal detector, comprising: a light sensitive detector material; a layer of light reflecting material covering at least a portion of the light sensitive material; a layer of spectral absorption material covering the light reflecting material; and a layer of filter material covering the spectral absorption material.

15. A thermal detector as in claim 14, further comprising: a layer of insulating material between said light sensitive material and said light reflecting material.

16. A thermal detector as in claim 14, wherein the light reflecting material is a metal.

17. A thermal detector as in claim 14, wherein the filter material is a polymer.

18. A thermal detector as in claim 14, wherein the spectral absorption material is a polymer.

19. A thermal detector as in claim 17, wherein the polymer comprises an acrylic resin.

20. A method of detecting the presence of a biological fluid, comprising: utilizing a thermal detector to detect a biological fluid, the thermal detector comprising a light sensitive detector material, a layer of light reflecting material covering at least a portion of the light sensitive material, a layer of spectral absorption material covering the light reflecting material, and a layer of filter material covering the spectral absorption material.

Description:

CROSS-REFERENCE TO RELATED APPLICATION

The present application is based on and claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application Ser. No. 61/123,295 having a filing date of Apr. 7, 2008, which is incorporated by reference herein.

BACKGROUND

Traditional infrared measurements of spectrally-overlapped chemical mixtures rely on spectroscopic measurements combined with multivariate statistics. However, traditional methods are experimentally complicated and require time and significant expertise in chemometric analysis.

Traditional photodetectors have fast response times, but they tend to have limited spectral range, must be cooled, and are fairly expensive. Thermal detectors on the other hand, while relatively slow in response, have a wide spectral range, work at room temperature, and are inexpensive.

The present disclosure relies on a thermal detector system that can be applied to a variety of applications where overlapping absorbance peaks are an issue.

SUMMARY

Objects and advantages of the invention will be set forth in part in the following description, or may be obvious from the description, or may be learned through the practice of the invention.

In accordance with certain embodiments of the present disclosure, a method for adjusting the spectral detectivity of a thermal detector is described. The method includes coating the light sensitive portion of a thermal detector with a first material to reduce the response of the detector. The first material is coated with a second material that is thermally thin and has spectral absorption characteristics. The second material is coated with a third material that is thermally thick, whereby the spectral absorbance of the second material as filtered by the third material primarily determines the thermal conversion of the thermal detector.

For instance, in certain embodiments, the first material can be a mirror coating material, such as a gold metal. The second material can be a polymer, such as a near infrared dye that absorbs light in the 860 nm spectral region. The polymer can also include an acrylic resin, such as an isobutyl methacrylate polymer. The thermal detector can be a thermopile detector. The third material can be a polymer. The method can further include providing an electrically insulating coating on the light sensitive portion of the thermal detector prior to coating the light sensitive portion with the first material.

In another embodiment of the present disclosure, a thermal detector is described. The thermal detector comprises a light sensitive detector material, a layer of light reflecting material covering at least a portion of the light sensitive material, a layer of spectral absorption material covering the light reflecting material, and a layer of filter material covering the spectral absorption material.

In still another embodiment of the present disclosure, a method of using a thermal detector to detect a biological fluid is described.

Other features and aspects of the present disclosure are discussed in greater detail below.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A full and enabling disclosure, including the best mode thereof, directed to one of ordinary skill in the art, is set forth more particularly in the remainder of the specification, which makes reference to the appended figures in which:

FIG. 1 illustrates a modified detector in accordance with certain embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 2 illustrates modified detectors in accordance with certain embodiments of the present disclosure in which different modulation frequencies are utilized.

FIG. 3 illustrates a three-dimensional scatter plot of data in a simulation in accordance with certain embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 4 illustrates a detector response comparison in accordance with certain embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 5 illustrates a three-dimensional scatter plot of data in a simulation in accordance with certain embodiments of the present disclosure.

FIG. 6 illustrates a camera response with and without a filter in place.

FIGS. 7-10 illustrate the calculated spectral responses for neat and stained fabrics, both with and without a filter in place.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION

Reference now will be made in detail to various embodiments of the disclosure, one or more examples of which are set forth below. Each example is provided by way of explanation of the disclosure, not limitation of the disclosure. In fact, it will be apparent to those skilled in the art that various modifications and variations can be made in the present disclosure without departing from the scope or spirit of the disclosure. For instance, features illustrated or described as part of one embodiment, can be used on another embodiment to yield a still further embodiment. Thus, it is intended that the present disclosure covers such modifications and variations as come within the scope of the appended claims and their equivalents.

The present disclosure is a method for a quantitative online mid-infrared (MIR) measurement. The present disclosure allows even a novice technician to easily interpret the output and requires no spectral measurement. This technique relies on thermal detectors that have been optimized to detect and/or reject patterns associated with chemical absorbances.

The present disclosure relates to a method for making chemically-selective detectors for various applications. This technique to determine analytes in spectrally-overlapped chemical mixtures relies on thermal detectors (e.g. thermopile, bolometer, pyroelectric, or the like) that have been optimized to detect and/or reject patterns associated with chemical absorbances. Selective enhancement is accomplished by optimizing the detector to detect and/or reject patterns associated with certain chemical absorbances. To protect the integrity of the detector, the detector is insulated to prevent it from shorting out during modifications. Examples used herein to illustrate the present disclosure use SiO2 for the insulator, but one skilled in the art will understand that materials, including but not limited to quartz and alumina may also be used provided they can be deposited on the detector surface.

As disclosed and described in U.S. application Ser. No. 12/277,538, filed Nov. 25, 2008, and incorporated by reference herein, thermal detectors can be modified to give spectral responses similar to the absorption of an analyte. The detectors are modified by adding an absorbing polymer layers and a reflective layer. The reflective layer is used to ensure that the detector only responds to the wavelengths of interest (i.e. those that are absorbed by the polymer film). In this regard, any suitable wavelengths are contemplated by the present disclosure including UV, microwave, infrared, or the like. In certain exemplary embodiments of the present disclosure, infrared wavelengths are utilized. In such embodiments, any material that is highly reflective in the infrared range, including but not limited to gold, silver or aluminum, is suitable for use as a reflector. Again, however, other suitable reflective materials are contemplated depending on the wavelength of interest. For instance, other mirror materials, such as interference coatings or the like can be utilized. An absorbing film, such as nylon or polyethylene, is applied to the metallic surface, which gives rise to a thermal detector with a response that is similar to the absorption spectrum of the film, allowing the detector to be ‘tuned’ to a specific spectral region of interest. In certain embodiments, other absorbing materials can also be utilized. For instance, an absorbing gas can be utilized that is contained within glass. The detector is most sensitive at the absorbed wavelengths and insensitive to other wavelengths. Another variation of this method is to apply another absorbing layer in addition to the reflective layer. The further polymer layer(s) would then act as filters depending on the chopping frequency of the light source. A sketch of a modified detector is shown in FIG. 1.

Modification of the detector described herein includes application of the necessary layers through processes including but not limited to spin coating, dip coating and sputtering. Not all detector types will withstand these modification processes. The detector disclosed and described herein is a thermal detector that can be separated into absorber and thermal components and is robust enough to withstand the coating processes, as would be understood by one of ordinary skill in the art. Thermopile, bolometer, and pyroelectric detectors are examples of exemplary thermal detectors that could be used in accordance with the present disclosure but any suitable thermal detector is contemplated for use herein.

The detector modification disclosed and described herein is not limited to a single, homogeneous polymer film, but the detector can be modified in an infinite number of ways to tune the detectivity to a single substrate or a specific combination of substrates. The detector could be coated with several films, each film of a different polymer, or a single film composed of several polymers. Specificity can be further enhanced with the aid of external filters, such as polymer coated lenses.

The devices and methods described herein can find application in numerous fields. For instance, in certain embodiments, a thermal detector in accordance with the present disclosure can be utilized in the field of forensic analysis.

The following examples are meant to illustrate the disclosure described herein and are not intended to limit the scope of this disclosure.

EXAMPLES

In one embodiment of the present disclosure, a detector can be modified for use in an infrared imaging camera. With the use of filters and coated lenses, a detection system is made that is specific for enhancing the detector's response to fluids, including blood. This type of camera would be beneficial for use at crime scenes, specifically in the determination of the presence of blood or other biological fluids. For example, blood has characteristic peaks in the mid-infrared region at 1545, 1659 and 3298 cm−1, which are very close to the characteristic peaks of nylon, which are centered at 1542, 1641 and 3299 cm−1. Therefore, the detector in this system could be modified with a layer of nylon to make it most responsive to those wavelengths. One skilled in the art would recognize that other polyamides, as well as different polymers, could also be used as the absorbing material (nylon is just one example). One skilled in the art should also realize that for decent resolution, there is a minimum detector array size that would be necessary (16×16, for example), however there is no upper limit to this array size.

The light source on the imaging camera should be modulated so that the detector is not “over exposed,” thereby washing out the image. The modulated light source, with frequency (f), creates a thermal wave within the film due to the absorption of light causing a nonradiative de-excitation to heat waves. This thermal wave is detected and the response is dependant upon the amount of light absorbed by the film. Two characteristics of a film that are important for this type of measurement are the thermal and optical thicknesses of the film. In determining the thermal and optical thickness of a film, the optical absorption depth and thermal diffusion length within the film are first determined. The optical absorption depth (A) is defined as the depth in the film at which the transmission has been reduced by 1/e. This relates to the Naperian absorbance coefficient (β) by

A(λ)=1β(λ)Equation1

Similarly, the thermal diffusion length (Ts) is the depth at which the thermal wave's amplitude has been attenuated by a factor of 1/e and is defined by the equation,

Ts=1a=απfEquation2

where “a” is the thermal diffusivity (m2/s) of the film. From these equations, it is possible to determine the respective thicknesses of the film by

T0=aLs A0=βLsEquations3,4

where Ls is the sample thickness, and T0 and A0 are the thermal and optical thickness of the film, respectively. If T0 (A0)<1, then the film is thermally (optically) thin and the thermal wave (light) is transmitted through the sample and is detected by the detector. If T0 (A0) >1, then the film is thermally (optically) thick and the thermal wave (light) does not reach the detector. In this embodiment, a highly reflective surface is deposited onto the detector, and the sample is optically thin when A0<0.5, due to the doubling of the optical path length of the film.

As illustrated in Equations 1 & 2, at a given wavelength, thermal thickness (Ts) is dependent on f(Hz), while the optical thickness (A) remains constant. Therefore, by varying the modulation frequency, the sampling depth is controlled. This allows for the development of a sensor with two (or more) polymer layers deposited onto the detector. A modulation frequency could be found that would allow all layers to be thermally thin, which would allow the detection of thermal waves due to the absorption in all layers, as shown in FIG. 2b. This would give a detector response related to the absorbances within each film combined. However, if the light is modulated at a higher frequency, the bottom layer(s) could remain thermally thin while the top layer(s) is outside of Ts and the detector response would correspond only to the absorption within the bottom layer(s), as shown in FIG. 2(c). This would result in the top layer(s) essentially acting as a filter, which would lead to a similar response as if those layers formed a separate filter system in front of the camera.

The simulations of the camera system disclosed and described herein are based on diffuse reflectance spectra of 4 types of fabrics (nylon, cotton, acrylic, and polyester), a real camera response spectrum, and simulated spectra of polymer films of Acryloid B-67. The first simulation shows how a camera responds to fabrics, with and without polymer stains. The detector is not modified, but a filter made of the same polymer as the stains is placed in front of the camera. This method produces two different responses for each sample type, the “raw” camera response and the camera response with the filter in place. By taking the ratio of these two measurements, there are now three factors that can be used to differentiate the samples. FIG. 3 is a three-dimensional scatter plot of the data. FIG. 3 shows that it is possible, with very little modification to the camera setup, to differentiate between different fabrics and to determine whether there is a polymer stain on a particular fabric.

The second simulation illustrates the responses of a camera with an altered detector. The detector was chosen to have a response that is the absorbance of the polymer Acryloid B-67. FIG. 4 compares the response of the original camera to that of the new detector.

The previous simulation was repeated with this new detector and the results are shown in FIG. 5. This illustrates how a very different response is achieved with the same experimental setup, just by changing the detector. FIG. 5 illustrates a clear differentiation between a fabric with a polymer stain and one without a stain. By changing the filter polymer, it is possible to get even better differentiation.

Turning to FIG. 6, a camera response is illustrated with and without a filter in place. The solid black line represents the actual response function provided by the manufacturer. It does not show the wide, flat response that is expected for an unmodified detector, but this is due to the fact that it was taken with the lens in place. The lens is made from germanium, which is transparent in the IR region, and has an anti-reflection film, which is the cause for the non-flat response curve. The red line indicates the expected spectral response with the 1 micron polymer filter in front of the camera. This was calculated by multiplying the camera response and the transmission of the filter.

Spectrum=Rcamera*Tfilter

FIG. 7-10 illustrate the calculated spectral responses for neat and stained fabrics, both with and without a filter in place. This was calculated as

Spectrum=Rcamera*Tfilter*Rfabric(*Tpolymer*Tpolymer)

For the response without a filter in place, the filter transmission term was left out. The terms in the parentheses are used to simulate the polymer stains. The calculated spectra with the filter in place are offset for clarity. The area under each of the curves was calculated and used for the “pixel contrast” under the different conditions. There is some difference between these outputs on the individual fabrics, but a more quantitative analysis is necessary. The outputs shown in these figures were calculated using the average measured spectrum of each fabric.

In the interest of brevity and conciseness, any ranges of values set forth in this specification are to be construed as written description support for claims reciting any sub-ranges having endpoints which are whole number values within the specified range in question. By way of a hypothetical illustrative example, a disclosure in this specification of a range of 1-5 shall be considered to support claims to any of the following sub-ranges: 1-4; 1-3; 1-2; 2-5; 2-4; 2-3; 3-5; 3-4; and 4-5.

These and other modifications and variations to the present disclosure can be practiced by those of ordinary skill in the art, without departing from the spirit and scope of the present disclosure, which is more particularly set forth in the appended claims. In addition, it should be understood that aspects of the various embodiments can be interchanged both in whole or in part. Furthermore, those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the foregoing description is by way of example only, and is not intended to limit the disclosure so as further described in such appended claims.